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Labor and Economic Opportunity

College Access: How Mentoring Relationships Can Help

There are many conversations young people in Michigan never have.  Conversations that would help them prepare for today, tomorrow, and their future.  For many youth, a mentor can help them have those dialogues and expose them to resources and opportunities otherwise left undiscovered.


Access to college is one of those topics.  And luckily for mentors, the youth they serve, and the organizations they volunteer with; there are a variety of ways to begin that conversation.


The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) was created to dramatically increase the state's college participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income and first-generation college students.  This one-stop-shop pools resources, information, and contacts together in an attempt to encourage communities across Michigan to help youth get to college.  But it's those local communities that need to then take the next step.


What better way to do so than through local mentoring programs and adult mentors?  MCAN's website,, offers tools such as the KnowHow2GO campaign which encourages low-income students and their families to take the necessary steps toward college and the Michigan College Access Portal which helps students plan, apply, and pay for college.  Both Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Program Director at the Jackson College Access Center; and Michelle Snitgen, Assistant Director for Grant Programs at Michigan Campus Compact; agree MCAN's resources are a great activity for mentoring matches to pursue.


"Find the time when working with youth to discuss where they want to go to college, and investigate online to help them think about careers, future education, or post-secondary education," explains Michelle.  "I encourage mentoring programs to engage their matches in these activities and get it engrained as they think about college in a positive way."


"College Access conversations are great answers to mentors who might not have plans or activities," echoes Ryan.  "Colleges can offer such vast opportunity and they're often right in your backyard!"


MCAN is also currently offering College Access Grants to community-based nonprofit organizations in Michigan to build support and sustainability for local college access programs.  Local programs, supported by MCAN, bring together area public and private entities that can assist with college access issues.  If you, as a mentoring program, would like to get involved in your local college access program or would like to create one in your area, visit